New visa system to boost tourism drive
September 02 2016 12:43 AM
QTA's chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim.

The soon-to-be-implemented online tourist visa application system forms part of Qatar’s efforts to continuously develop the necessary infrastructure aimed at further driving tourism growth, a senior Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) official has said.
“Facilitating the visa application process is an important step in the drive to increase the number of visitor arrivals to Qatar,” explained chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim.
The official was speaking  on Wednesday at the agreement signing with Qatar Airways (QA) and VFS Global, in the presence of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), that will allow foreigners to visit Qatar on a tourist visa.
QTA aims to raise inbound spending through the new visa system, expected to come into effect between the first and second quarter of 2017, citing a study it completed in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Full details of the initiative, including the cost and validity of the tourist visa, will be announced soon, according to al-Ibrahim. 
“We are working on the process and going through it right now, there is no single visa type, there will be multiple types with different duration and so on,” he said. 
The official added that the steps taken are expected to increase Qatar’s openness ranking on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. 
QTA is working closely with its partners in the public and private sector to come up with new and varied tourism products to entice more visitors from various regions.
“This is to expand Qatar’s calendar of tourism festivals and events, and to enhance the level of expertise and quality among tourism sector professionals,” he stressed, adding that they will announce more developments in the near future.
“In all of our development plans, we strive to ensure that tourism projects are rooted in Qatari culture and heritage, because we believe in developing a tourism sector that is truly reflective of this country and its people,” al-Ibrahim said.
Besides souqs, cultural villages, hotels, and state-of-the-art stadiums, Qatar is banking on its Unesco heritage site (Al Zubarah) and world-class museums designed by renowned architects such as the Museum of Islamic Art and the under-construction National Museums, to attract more visitors. 
“Most importantly, we have the culture and warmness of the Qatari people,” said QA Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker, who led the signing agreement with QTA, VFS Global and MoI.
He stressed that all tourists are most welcome to visit and experience Qatari hospitality and culture.
Since launching the Qatar’s National Tourism Sector Strategy, the country received more than 7mn visitors, and achieved an average annual growth in arrivals of 11.5% between 2010 and 2015. 
The strategy urges all sectors in Qatar to join hands and lay the groundwork for a world-class tourist destination with deep cultural roots.

Last updated: September 02 2016 08:20 AM

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